6. Stress Fracture
Not that any of these injuries are something that people want to encounter, but stress fractures are one of the few that is a definite period of at least 8 weeks off, often times more.
Stress fractures are a result of repetitive stress on the bones that support the anti-gravity muscles, tendons, ligaments.
Overtime with repeated force (from weight bearing exercise) on a particular area, the bone wont be able to keep up and heal itself quick enough, resulting in the loss of bone density, and an eventual stress response or full blown fracture.
When this occurs, the only thing you can do is take time off and let the bone fully heal before gradually getting back into your normal training routine.
The onset of a stress fracture can be slow. It might start as a dull ache, and gradually become more pronounced in pain.
It is common that the body’s reaction to the stress in the bone is to place more force on the muscles and tendons which can lead to these muscles becoming sore and tight.
Sometimes stress reactions are misdiagnosed for some other injury (shin splints, achilles tendonitis), because the tissues surrounding the injury are overstressed as well resulting in inflammation in those areas.
The most common areas for stress fractures in runners are in the shin, hip, metatarsals (foot) and femur.
That covers a lot of your leg, so it’s important if you have acute pain, that does not get better as your muscles warm up, but stays the same or worsens you should be aware and seek professional advice.
The pain can also be shooting on impact, this is a tell tale sign of a stress response or fracture. Hopping on one leg is a common test performed to see if the pain is most severe on impact.
If you have any of these symptoms, seek the advice of a medical professional, further tests will be required to determine the exact location and severity of your particular injury.
Recovery is almost entirely rest. You can do no-impact activities, such as pool running, as long as it doesn’t aggravate the region.
You have to give your bone time to heal. Icing can help relieve inflammation, and getting a low intensity ultrasound can promote regrowth. Most physical therapy centers have these machines.
Otherwise, just make sure your diet is nutritious and you’re getting the necessary nutrients from food to aid your body in the healing process.
When can I run again?
Only after your medical professional tells you you can. There should be no pain.
As always, build up gradually by continuing your supplemental exercises and incrementally increasing the length of runs from a couple minutes up to normal training load.
Stress fractures are tough to pinpoint before it’s too late. Running in the right shoes and on forgiving surfaces are a good way to prevent stress fractures.
If you run mostly on trails, don’t decide to do your long run on all roads, as your body is not use to the harder surfaces and needs time to adapt.
Make sure you consume a well balanced diet that allows you to get all the nutrients your body needs to recover in between runs. These vitamins and minerals are best from food and not supplementation. Oftentimes, your body isn’t able to effectively absorb all the nutrients in a pill as it can in their natural state, packaged with other micro and macro nutrients.
Have you had experiences with these injuries? What are your strategies to combat and prevent? Please leave comments.